Avila Perspective, Chap. 277: Canelo and Munguia and More Boxing News


By David A. Avila

As a member of the credentialed media, I’ve seen boxing press conferences of all types and sizes for the past 31 years.

When Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Jaime Munguia met at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Tuesday to officially announce their upcoming clash on May 4 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the downstairs dining area was filled more with family and friends than media.

It was a very subdued affair.

“This fight is a great source of pride for me, because it’s all about Mexico. I’m proud to have my country featured this way in front of the whole world,” said Alvarez, 33, the undisputed super middleweight champion from Guadalajara, Mexico.

Mexican fighters Canelo and challenger Munguia shook hands and the questions to the fighters were handled by Hall of Fame ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.

It’s a recent addition to press conferences made by Premier Boxing Champions.

Over the years I’ve seen so many press conferences including a few unforgettable experiences at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Manny Pacquiao comes to mind. Several of his meetings with the press were held in the historic hotel that was first built in 1912.

There was no city of Beverly Hills when the hotel was first built.

Inside the Beverly Hills Hotel they have the famous Polo Lounge. Years ago, there was a strict dress rule requiring a shirt and tie. At any time of the day, you can run into a movie star or some kind of celebrity at the Polo Lounge. I once ate lunch with a female fighter during an interview and was seated next to Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath fame. Apparently, he knew the fighter I interviewed Mia St. John, and they greeted each other and ate salad.

One of my favorite experiences at the hotel happened when Top Rank and Golden Boy held a poolside press conference for a middleweight showdown between Kelly Pavlik and Bernard Hopkins in 2008. We sat under umbrella’s during a hot summer afternoon sipping lemonade and discussing the merits of each fighter.

I’ve seen them all come and go when it comes to boxing press conferences. Last summer Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. made their fight announcement at this same hotel.

Opening press conferences can be special such as when Oscar De La Hoya announced his retirement outdoors at LA Live in 2008, or zany events such as Mike Tyson’s presser at Beverly Hills Hilton after arriving three hours late. You can never tell what’s going to happen.

During the Roy Jones Jr. and James “Lights Out” Toney press conference at the Hollywood House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard, I recall the Northridge Earthquake occurred in 1994 on that day and shook all of L.A. County resulting in numerous deaths.

Press conferences have taken place in old downtown movie theaters, the Olympic Auditorium, the Queen Mary, the Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach, Chinese Mann Theater, Universal Studios, Home Depot Stadium, and even the Beverly Hills home of a reality TV star.

Probably the unofficial king of pressers in my time was Ricardo Mayorga. No one could stir the pot like the madcap from Nicaragua. His antics were ridiculous like when he stepped on the scale to face the late Vernon Forrest in Las Vegas with a whole pizza in his hand while smoking a cigarette. Or his insulting De La Hoya and causing the usually calm fighter to get red with anger. Or what about his antics forcing the promoters to install a plexi-glass barrier between him and Fernando Vargas.

Mayorga was unique and funny.

Back to Canelo and Munguia

Still, this fight promises to be a sensational clash between Mexico’s two best fighters in the heavier weight classes. Despite the seemingly low numbers of media in attendance at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It was almost a secret press conference for family only.

Until Canelo won the middleweight title from Miguel Cotto in November 2015, no Mexican fighter had ever won a middleweight world title. Mexican fighters usually don’t grow that big. If you count fighters with Mexican blood then De La Hoya also won a middleweight title. No others.

Canelo also became the first in the multi-belt era to become undisputed super middleweight world champion. He also remains one of three of Mexican lineage to ever win a super middleweight world title. The others are Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez and David “Mexican Monster” Benavidez.

“Jaime Munguia is a respectful person and a great fighter who’s earned this fight again and again. Everyone will see how great this fight is for Mexico on May 4,” said Alvarez.

Can Munguia become the fourth?

“Canelo has always been a source of pride and motivation for me. I used to say when I was coming up in the sport that I want to be like him, and now we get a chance to face him and hopefully be where he is soon,” said Munguia, 27, of Tijuana, Mexico.

Both expect a Mexican War which means no running or hugging.

“I can’t wait to show the world what kind of party Mexicans can throw inside and outside of the ring,” Alvarez said.

Cinco de Mayo weekend in Las Vegas should be a blast.

Boxing in Sheffield

Undefeated Dalton Smith (15-0, 11 KOs) and top contender Jose “Chon” Zepeda (37-4, 28 KOs) headline a fight card out of Sheffield, England on Saturday, March 23. The Matchroom Boxing card will be streamed by DAZN at noon Pacific Time.

Also, on the same card, female welterweight champion Sandy Ryan (6-1-1, 2 KOs) defends the WBO title against two-division titlist Terri Harper (14-1-2, 6 KOs). Both are popular British fighters and willing to face each other to enhance their reputations.

It should be a firecracker of a fight.

MarvNation in L.A.

Top Prospects from Southern California area clash at St. John Bosco High in Bellflower on Saturday, March 23. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Welterweight prospects Mylik Birdsong (14-1-1) and Jerry Bradford (9-1) meet in the co-main event set for eight rounds. Also, super featherweights Michael Bracamontes (8-1-1) and John Mark Alimane (8-6-1) meet in a six-round bout. Several other bouts are planned.

For more information call (562) 631-3816.

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific Time)

Sat. DAZN 12 p.m. Dalton Smith (15-0) vs Jose Zepeda (37-4); Sandy Ryan (6-1-1) vs Terri Harper (14-1-2).